"They, of all England, to ancient customs cleave:" Cheshire’s privileged autonomy and Tudor and Stuart politics
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Provincial autonomy in the competitive atmosphere of evolving ideas surrounding country, realm, and nation in late medieval and early-modern Britain is investigated through distinct and variegated notions of negotiated political deference to the authority of the English Crown and its Parliament. The Palatinate of Cheshire serves as an example to argue a tradition of independently negotiated county level structures for taxation and law created degrees of customary autonomy reinforcing the localized rejection of a single nation state. Historiographical debates surrounding early-modern conceptions about the nature of the state are challenged to argue for provincial autonomy founded upon custom and negotiation claimed and exerted by county inhabitants to a greater extent than previously recognised. I contend that early-modern communities locally recognized the composite structure and authority of the realm under the Crown and its advisors, but rejected the corporate idea that all counties collectively form a ‘nation’ as one political body.
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